Who we choose to marry is one of the most important and costliest decisions a person will make, yet it’s not uncommon for lovers to make errors in judgment. Why does this happen? One reason is that most of us aren’t raised with a healthy template of marriage to follow. We also lack self-awareness and may be afraid of ending up alone. Taking a closer look at a potential partners’ beliefs, values, and expectations will set you up for a more successful partnership.
5 questions to ask potential marital partners:
1. Who are their parents? Include questions about marital history, mental illness and substance abuse, etc.. Don’t shy away from asking questions now that may blindside you later. It’s better to be forewarned because some qualities have a genetic component.
2. What is their typical way of dealing with conflict? Don’t assume that your partner has good anger management skills. Does he/she usually take responsibility for his/her actions or blame someone else? Do they tend to stonewall or withdraw from conflict or see it as an opportunity for growth?
3. How does your partner feel about having children? How many children do they consider the best number if they want them? Do they believe that couples should share chores and childcare responsibilities?
4. What are their values and beliefs about infidelity?
5. What is their view of divorce? What would they consider a good solution to a period when your marriage is rocky?
Perhaps the first step in deciding whether a person is a good risk for marriage is to get clarity around “deal breakers” and “deal makers.” It’s crucial to know those things that are important to you from the list above (or other questions) and to not compromise too many of your values and beliefs.
There is no such thing as a perfect partner. You might want to ask yourself this question: Is there something about the way that he/she treats me that makes me a bigger and better person? If the answer is no, ask yourself: Am I settling for less than I deserve in the relationship? There is an art to living alone and it can give us the experience of knowing ourselves better and more clearly what we want in a marriage.
Are you wondering if you are wasting your time with the wrong person? It’s understandable that you’d have a need for certainty before continuing to pursue the commitment of marriage. Taking your time to get to know someone over a few years can improve the chances that you have selected a partner who is a good match for you. It’s never wise to panic and jump into a commitment because you believe that the clock is ticking or most of your friends are married.
If you feel that your partner is the right person for you but you still fear commitment, you might want to consider the following: Know that no relationship is conflict free, but you are worthy of having a relationship that makes you happy. If you aren’t there yet, embrace where you are now. What is it that holds you back from achieving a satisfying relationship? And once you have it, what will you do when you get there?
The best partner will compliment you and bring out your very best. When you are with him or her, you will begin to see untapped possibilities within yourself and in the world. In any relationship, you will face ups and downs and your love will be tested. However, where admiration and respect are found, love will be sustained. But where these things are absent, love will die. Finding a partner who likes and respects you as much as you do him/her will give you the best chance of finding long-lasting love.
Follow Terry Gaspard on Twitter, Facebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Her book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website. Feel free to ask a question here.
Terry’s forthcoming book, The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around, will be published by Sounds True in February of 2020.